Thursday, December 18, 2008

Option 4 for CCSD's District 20: An IED

Now that the District 20 public venting has ended, CCSD Superintendent of Schools Nancy McGinley hopes that all will just dissipate their energies complaining to each other so that she can get on with closing schools. Let's not let that happen.

District 20 needs its own IED (yes, Improvised Explosive Device) to give CCSD School Board members reasons to vote against the McGinley-Meyers-Green guided missiles. Improvised, of course, because 75 Calhoun has guaranteed that dissenters do not have the proper data concerning school capacities, school expenses, and potential student bodies. That means that they will respond (as McGinley has already) that District 20 residents simply do not understand the problem and are reacting emotionally to a "data-driven" inevitability. In fact, if you view Mr. Bobby's economic explanation to public audiences, he believes not only are you economically ignorant, you are also simple-minded.

Allow me to quote from Core Knowledge what one respected educator has observed about being "data driven":

"Gone are the days when educators dismissed data as having only a limited utility for improving schools and school systems. What’s taken its place, argues Rick Hess, is 'The New Stupid' — where data-based decision making and research-based practice 'stand in for careful thought, serve as dressed-up rationales for the same old fads, or [are] used to justify incoherent proposals.'”

"The key is not to retreat from data, Hess counsels, 'but to truly embrace the data by asking hard questions, considering organizational realities, and contemplating unintended consequences. Absent sensible restraint, it is not difficult to envision a raft of poor judgments governing staffing, operations, and instruction—all in the name of 'data-driven decision making.’”
Wow! Did he just describe CCSD or what? Trendy poor judgment and lack of sensible restraint.

Start from the assumption that any suggestion deviating from CCSD's plans will be met with sniggering and belittling. McGinley et al fervently hope that any plan put forward will compromise enough schools that you will have signed on for your own punishment. Don't let that happen. Whatever plan you put forward must be outrageously bold and sensible; there is no way to propose dollar savings with no reliable information, so don't waste time trying.

What to do?
  • Announce that most dollar savings must be found in Mt. Pleasant, James Island, and West Ashley.
  • Immediately move to structure Charleston Progressive as a charter school. (Yes, I know they said they won't consider more charters; call their bluff).
  • File a lawsuit in federal court claiming that the School Board is attempting to resegregate the schools;
  • Call the bluff of the NAACP and Ministerial Alliance, both of whom have remained strangely silent on McGinley's proposals.
  • Ask for what you really want and have wanted for decades; don't bend to seismic or economic threats.
My suggestions:
  • Forget the seismic upgrades and the costs associated with moving students around to do them;
  • Combine all grade-level-performing students from Charleston Progressive and Buist into one magnet school that is K-8 (let's call it Courtenay Magnet, maybe);
  • Put CSMS in the Rivers building and let its board decide about upgrades;
  • Make all downtown elementary schools K-7, planning that in better times they will become Pre-K through 7;
  • Make Burke High School grades 8 - 12, for reasons enumerated previously on this blog;
  • Put the so-called Career Center / technical high school in Burke as a magnet;
  • Redraw district lines to include nearby parts of Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, and North Charleston to fill any remaining spaces and bring down per-pupil costs.
There. That should be bold enough.

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